How to unlock the best Virgin Australia seats

Want the seats which Virgin reserves for top frequent flyers and VIPs? It’s just a matter of timing…

By Staff Writers, September 30 2022
How to unlock the best Virgin Australia seats

Like most airlines, Virgin Australia sets aside some of the best seats on its Boeing 737 jets for its most loyal frequent flyers.

Being able to choose a seat near the front of the plane, especially one with extra leg room, is a great perk for Velocity Platinums, Velocity Golds and of course Beyond VIPs.

But for almost everyone else selecting their seat, those prize pews are blocked out.

The good news? You don’t have to be a top-tier traveller clutching a shiny frequent flyer card to snare an A-grade seat – just wait until 48 hours before your flight departs.

This is Virgin Australia’s equivalent of the Qantas T-80 rule: the point at which the seat map opens up, making seats previously earmarked for frequent flyers available to everyone.

As Virgin Australia puts it, “we have created Platinum, Gold and Silver preferred zones in all our aircraft enabling our frequent flyers to choose the best seats.”

From the moment those travellers make a booking they enjoy first pick of the seats (provided of course their Velocity number is included in their booking), as Virgin “reserves specific zones that are only available for selection for members within the relevant Velocity tiers.”

That all changes 48 hours before the flight departs (or T-48, in aviation-speak).

Bang on two days ahead of the flight taking off  “we release most of the unused seats in the preferred zones for others members and guests,” Virgin Australia explains.

The take-away? Set an alarm for just over 48 hours before your flight’s departure and be armed with your booking reference to click through the the Manage my Booking screen on the Virgin Australia website or app and see if there’s a better seat up for grabs.

However, this isn’t your final chance to get one-up on the seat map.

As 12 hours before departure, “we release all unused seats in the preferred zones” Virgin Australia qualifies – indicating that a few seats remain up the airline’s sleeve.

At the same time, “we endeavour to provide a spare seat beside our Platinum Velocity members.”

Oh, and speaking of the best seats on Virgin Australia’s Boeing 737 jets: a seat to avoid is 9A, which doesn’t have a window.

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 870

In the past Qantas has blocked seats for myself, if Virgin aren't going to put the third row of business class seats in they need to start offering at least the prize row 3 (and maybe 4 and 5) a meal (chicken sandwich and coke zero or You Foodz etc)., Virgin America was doing this as part of the selling price of the ticket. Maybe in the new 737 Max, business with total recline seats, premium economy (with meal) and economy on flights over 3 1/2 hours, I ditch the QF A330 - 787 if that was on offer.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 605

You're quite right about how Virgin could do a lot more with Rows 3-5 given there's only 8 business class seats at the moment.  It doesn't require a huge stretch of the imagination, but that assumes 'creative thinking' is allowed below the Executive GM level of the organisation (which I doubt is encouraged and rewarded).  

But, tomorrow's another day . . . . 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 Aug 2014

Total posts 147

I have absolutely no idea what you are talking about 

This article isn't about Qantas. 

If you're talking about blocking seats, it already says in the article that VA try to keep an empty seat beside their Platinums. 

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 870

Try to keep an empty seat and actually keeping an empty seat are two different things

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Nov 2017

Total posts 319

Not likely to happen.  Virgin are on record after all stating that they are 'not' going after the premium market as a 'Value Orientated' carrier.

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 870

Maybe that is why they are trying so hard to pick up the premium market what they have said and what they have done are two different things

Take your marketing hat off, to much common sense, they won’t even give me a chicken sandwich in business anymore rather than the full meal.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 605

That may well be your experience on (some?) Qantas flights, but on every Virgin Business I'm always offered a pre-flight drink followed after take-off by a cooked meal, etc. served in crockery with cutlery.  

I get the offer of pre flight drinks and a hot meal (amazing meals) but when I get home my wife has dinner on the table ready (I have a great wife) so a chicken sandwich is all I need rather than 2 dinner meals 👍

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1175

Why do VA need to put a third row of J seats in?  Obviously, they know their demand and don't see the worth of doing so.  In relation to seat blocking, both airlines will try to leave a vacant seat next to a high tier passenger where possible but, where the plane is full, this is not an option and most people understand that.

If you have bought your ticket for 20-25% less than the equivalent ticket on QF, I really don't think most people would begrudge paying $8 for some cheese and crackers or whatever it is they feel they want off the menu.  Adding a free option for some pax will just complicate things.

VA have stated they are not going to put a lie-flat J class seat on their upcoming 737s.  Lie-flats use too much space and pax aren't willing to pay the premium needed where so much real estate is used when most flights are under 4 hours and operate during daylight hours anyway.  QF have also indicated the same with their A321XLRs which will come with 5 rows of J class recliners rather than the desirable but significantly capacity reducing lie-flats as used by AA on their transcontinental A321 subfleet,

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 605

Just like "build it and they will come*, put them (J seats) in and they'll fill.  In capital intensive service industries, supply creates demand (one way or another).

*Field of Deams(1989), Universal Pictures, starred Kevin Costner.

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 870

@BT Love It !!!!!

I was at the Gold Coast Airport and he and his security (one guy with Tatts) looked me up and down, like why do I get the same VIP treatment going through security……

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1175

On that logic, you'd fly an A380 between MEL and SYD.  Yes, if you add capacity, you may sell more seats but the law of supply and demand would mean that the average price would have to decline.

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 870

@reeves35 Did you Know that VA never broke even in n business class until Bain dropped the sell price down to $289.00? A loss leader that didn’t lead. Hence internally there is views to add a third row.

Offering a meal for row 3-5 paid extra (not free) when you buy your ticket turning rows 3-5 into premium economy with platinums having free access (no meal unless paid for) what’s wrong with that same as Virgin America did?

And typo on the 3 1/2 hours, a trip like Sydney to Bali I want Lie-Flat seats, have you ever done Sydney to Darwin 4 1/2 hours, I did that for 12 months straight back to Sydney Friday and back to Darwin Sunday night it’s a killer trust me.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1175

Good luck trying to find a $289 J class fare now though If VA aren't making money with 8 J seats, I can't see why they'd want more.

VA has decided to do away with inflight catering except for J Class.  BoB is both more profitable and less wasteful.  I really cannot see them bringing it back in Y class.  Included catering and happy hour alcohol was an initiative during the Borghetti era that added costs to the business without increasing revenue.  You use VX as an example but it is important to note it was a feature that AS ditched when they took over the airline.

Bali is a low yielding destination; there is no case for a lie-flat on this type of destination which is the same reason Qantas Group concentrate JQ onto places like it and Phuket.

You may like lie-flats on a route such as SYD-DRW but a lie-flat uses nearly double the space of a recliner seat.  Are you or your employer prepared to pay nearly double the fare remembering at least the travel in one direction will be daylight flying when the bed function is unlikely to be used?   Some suggest creating a subfleet with a different configuration but this reduces fleet flexibility which airlines tend to prefer to avoid.  

We should always ignore the potential for FF redemptions and reward upgrades etc because they do not come into consideration when airlines look at route revenue.

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 870

My understanding is Business Class is making money at $289.00 and I am picking up seats at the price point.

Put your marketing hat on with pre purchase snacks / meals with row 3-5 as a premium economy, and using Alaskan Air as an example is baseless it was a take-over not a merger of services.

Bali, the amount of premium VA flyers that tell me they had to go to Bali for a wedding, conference etc in those crappy business seats (Bali, the place poor people go to be rich)

I'm not sure where daylight travel comes into  Sydney - Darwin, Darwin - Sydney. Sub Fleet is the best idea and just keep 737s even thou it's a Max. And as for the price of business class I'm worth it trust me.

And please don't knock Borghetti he is a hero for keeping Qantas honest for so many year, a good example is the current degrade of all services, I say bring back Borghetti.........  Keep them Honest with good services for the consumer 

VA really don't look after their 2800 plus status credit flyers much at all, and yes Borghetti kept Qantas on their toes.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Nov 2017

Total posts 319

As pointed out previously, Bali is a low-cost, budget tourist destination where the POS is mostly on the Australian end, and even Qantas sends 737s from the two most populated cities, which suggests the premium demand is very minimal at best.  QF's 'premium' configured aircraft (mostly widebodies) are allocated where they can get a 'higher return' from more 'higher yielding' routes, as opposed to tourist destinations like Bali and Fiji.

Sure there is the argument that 'build it and they will come', but if there are routes to other cities that generate more 'high yielding' premium revenue than the budget tourist mecca of Bali, then of course QF or other carriers will send those aircraft elsewhere!

I'd recommend you should stay with QF if you want the 'Premium' stuff as VA under its current owners has positioned the carrier towards the Value J/LCC Y hybrid side and have very little intentions of getting more premium accounts (apart from the few they still have).

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

20 Nov 2017

Total posts 111

I'm really happy with the premium stuff on VA. I can buy a great value J seat if I can justify it, and it always comes with a PDB, a nice meal and lots more drinks (on top of the PDB).  As a Plat, I also enjoy priority boarding that works all the time (unlike QF), and the lounges., etc 

Most of the time, while travelling domestic, even for business, I am in YX, but that is fine, it's only about one hour and I don't car whether I receive a stupid snack, I have eaten (and drunken) in the lounge. It is just wasteful to hand out a package to everyone. You can BOB if you want.

VA does want more premium accounts, it's just the large corporates and government they are not chasing, because these customers are happy/able to pay over the odds (because they are not paying) for the perceived benefits of QF (most of which are not realised) and because they are chasing LTG.

10 Mar 2012

Total posts 6

Generally row 9 is reserved for Z (staff travel) but definitely don't book it if u dont have too 😳 im sure back when I was CC that row used to be blocked regardless. How things change


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